September 19th, 2011 Rave Magazine
JACOB HICKS, frontman of RE:ENACTMENT, ahead of playing their new single Problematic (and a few other songs) at GoMA, answers a few questions for RAVE.
What’s it like being managed by Paper Street and how did those guys find out about you?
Well, it’s only in the early stages and I’ll be honest, there’s a real shortage of gold jewellery, one-way conversations and doing lines behind Valley venue toilets. So I’d say it’s going really well so far. How’d they find out about us? We found them and they found back. It was a real Discovery Channel moment.
How close is your album to being finished?
All the peripheral stuff – mixing, mastering, cover art, whatever, it’s all done. The real importance lies in finding Magoo a limited edition tweed USB device complete with five seasons of Plane Crash Investigations on it. It’s basically what he’s always never wanted to receive from a band he’s worked with. That to me is a classy challenge.
Tell me about Problematic – what’s it about?
Overseas people that think women from Australia are all abrasive and bitter. Really they’re not, they’ve just had to evolve a harsh spiked verbal armour in order to deal with the relentless advances of Australian men. Men that think they’re Brad Pitt after three low-carb middies.
How are your Nintendogs working out?
Wouldn’t you like to know? Maybe you should swing by GoMA on Friday night, say around 8.30? You bring the Sega Master System, I’ll bring the SNES and together we can get on that Kart and take each other to Miracle World … baby.
Have you ever played an art gallery before? What are you expecting?
Apart from lots of our very fine, good-looking Re:Enactment fans I’m expecting lots of fine, good-looking art appreciators with iPhone apps that trigger polite applause so that they don’t have to put down their drinks to clap after each song. That is just smart really.
May 11th, 2011 (Rave Magazine)
DENIS SEMCHENKO meets one half of RE:ENACTMENT – bassist/electronics operator JAMES GRUNDY and drummer/vocalist SAM MITCHELL– for a chat about the acclaimed Brisbane electro-rockers’ debut album Sport.
Over the last couple years, Re:Enactment have amassed a serious live reputation around town and honed their studio sound on a series of EPs. This month sees their much-awaited first LP proper – the punchy, muscular beats-laden Sport – and the not-to-be-missed launch gig. Considering the band members’ jovial personalities, one can assume that the recording process was…
“Chaotic – it spanned oceans and decades,” James quips as we sip on our beers at a cosy inner-west bar.
“It took over a year,” Sam adds.
“We started over a year ago with a different idea of what we would do,” James continues. “We’ve been recording constantly for about a year now and the tracks we’ve ended up with were the tracks we were writing during the recording – we left off about seven tracks. When we started, we were probably more of a rock band and about halfway through, something snapped – we got dance-y.”
“We kind of changed as a band – because we don’t have much money or time, it takes forever and you can feel either excited or really crap and stressed at times,” Sam muses. “The last couple weeks, we were super-rushed because it took us too long to do it, but we rushed and we compromised,” he laughs.
“It’s like that time at uni when you don’t do anything during the semester and then it’s the exams,” James sums up.
Mixed by Magoo at his Applewood Studios and Burke Reid at BJB in Sydney, the aptly-titled Tronic is a clutch of concise, energetic, eminently danceable tracks.
“Burke is the person we’ve actually spent the most time in the studio with, whereas we weren’t really as hands-on with Magoo,” James says. “He lives in the countryside, so we didn’t really spend too much time with him – we were mostly passing emails back and forth.”
“We’d say, ‘Magoo, we’ve got these tracks and we need you to mix one every day’ – he lives out in Fernvale, at a beautiful old church – but because we’re all working, we’d drive out, drop off the files, have a quick chat about what we’d think the song was and go ‘see you!’ and go back to Brisbane to work,” Sam chuckles. “One day, none of us could get the files out, so a mate drove them out for us. It was really weird how the mixing went with Magoo – very hands-off. He would do it and we’d give him feedback; there’d be three to four mixes of each song to-and-fro via email and that was it – there was no us in the studio going ‘yeah, man! Do this or that!’”
“With Burke at BJB, a few of us flew down to Sydney and spent a few days there with him,” James recalls. “That was a completely different experience watching him work and being in the room.”
“The album probably sounds a lot clearer than the EPs, but it’s hard to know because when we recorded with Stephen Bartlett, we haven’t recorded with him before either,” Sam sums up. “It’s hard to know whether that was Steve, Burke, Magoo or all of the above. We’ve got a lot more… hi-fi.”
September 14th, 2010 (Rave Magazine)
After a string of EPs and singles, RE:ENACTMENT are finally on their way to an album. SOPHIE BENJAMIN speaks to frontman and fellow music school dropout JACOB HICKSabout downloads and the fun in surprising yourself.
Re:enactment aren’t your typical indie-rock band when it comes to composing and releasing their music. Songs are cut-up and rearranged with electronic production, adding synths and beats over the shouts and jangly guitars. It sounds jarring, but it works.
“That’s probably been our biggest weakness, the fact that we’ve never stuck to one area,” says Hicks thoughtfully. “We always got together and felt like we could do whatever we wanted musically, but we really wanted to follow what inspires us. In the end it’s going to be our biggest strength too.”
The band met while studying music at university – an oddly sterile environment when it came to creativity. Half the band dropped out, but luckily not before finding each other.
“I didn’t do the course because I wanted to become a professor of music,” Hicks explains. “For me, I felt like I wasn’t good at anything except music and I wanted to meet like-minded people instead of having to trawl through the classifieds in street press.
“There’s definitely a lot of people [at uni] that either don’t know what they’re doing there or are there to not be creative, which is odd considering it’s in the creative industries.”
Neither of those accusations could be leveled at Re:enactment. Over the past few years, a large handful of EPs, songs, singles and remixes have made their way onto the band’s website, all for free download; a “good introduction,” according to Hicks.
Their double A-side single Talent For Retail is the first step towards releasing their debut album in the new year. Usually 100% DIY in the recording, production and promotion of their music, this time the band stepped into the studio with Steve Bartlett.
“We didn’t want to put out an album and have a couple of months where people had a few listens to it and that was it. We really wanted to make an effort to elongate that process. We were really proud of the songs that we’ve been writing and we felt to do them justice, we couldn’t get away with doing the DIY thing, plus we wanted to do something different as well.
Points of difference are of the utmost importance to the band. The difference between the live and recorded material is huge, at times sounding like two different bands. Hicks is enthusiastic about the possibilities.
“The most powerful thing about any song, I think, is when it surprises you and gets you off your guard, and that’s the sort of music that I’ve really wanted to write. It’s a bit scary but really entertaining, and I feel like that’s how it should be.”
May 12th, 2009 (Rave Magazine)
JIM GRUNDY, bassist and laptop warrior for RE:ENACTMENT, tells JAKEB SMITHhow the local electronic rockers have been keeping themselves occupied.
JAKEB SMITH: We haven’t really heard from you guys since the Regicide EP late last year. What’s been happening?
JIM GRUNDY: Jac [Jacob Hicks, guitar/vocals] was away for four months overseas and he got back and since then we’ve just been writing new material. We’re just getting ready to record an album.
JG: We’re recording some demos tonight so that should be good, and will release a little EP at The Zoo as well, which we’re going to be giving out for free. A similar situation [to the last release] – just all of us set-up – but in a controlled studio environment, so it sounds heaps better. We’ve got five new ones…
JS: How is it sounding compared to the current stuff?
JG: We’re looking to do a few tracks that are more electronic – still live, but using laptops and electronic gear.
JS: Re:enactment have always been a fairly even blend of rock and electronica, do you see yourselves pursuing pure electronics in the future?
JG: I definitely want to. When I write a track it’s very purely electronica because I write on the laptop. Then when Jac writes a track it’s very rock orientated, so when we work on each other’s stuff we end up getting a very fine balance between the two. I want the electronic aspect to come through a little more than it has, but we also like the fact that there’s two sides to the band. There’s the recorded version of us, which heavily has that electronic influence; and then there’s the live band which is completely different in itself, which we think is really cool.
JS: It also makes listening to a live recording worthwhile even if you know the songs.
JG: Yeah that’s it, and what we’re doing to tonight is basically recording everything from day one. We’ve got Thems Burnt Puppies on record, but Puppies live is a completely different song – at least we think so anyway. So we think it’s worthwhile having both versions out there for people. If someone is into electronica they may get into our studio versions, but if they’re into a more raw rock sound, then there’s the live stuff.
JS: You’ve also got a nice remix of fellow locals Toy Balloon up on your site. How’d you get into that?
JG: That’s how I started when I was 15, 16, just writing stuff on the laptop. I really enjoy remixing, I find it a lot more inspiring to have something to already work from. Obviously if you love the track you can have heaps of fun with it and end up with something completely different. I’m really not into the remixes where they just slap a dance beat on it and a few cut-off filters and all of a sudden it’s an edgy dance mix. I’m really into the ones that just re-explore in a completely different context. That way I can also bring out the more IDM influence. Obviously with the band we can’t go that far into it, because it still needs to be a song. But we can create these pieces that are not structurally songs.
We’re looking at doing a lot more remixing, and hopefully some more bands will get involved, and we’re also keen for other people to tear our songs to shreds. We’d like to create a little remixing community because I don’t really think there appears to be one in Brisbane.
August 22nd, 2008 (Rave Magazine)
JAKEB SMITH fires off questions in quick succession, but SAM and JIM – from Brisbane party rockers RE:ENACTMENT– stop them with a raised hand, and send them rushing straight back.
JAKEB SMITH: A new EP, already. Is this indicative of a good work ethic, or did you just happen upon a bunch of songs?
SAM: I think it’s more indicative of the live music scene. It’s challenging to keep the momentum strong and maintain a high level of performance while trying not to play too many shows in Brisbane. We haven’t ventured outside of Brissie yet so we have to make every show count. If we can constantly be producing new stuff hopefully no one will get sick of us. Also, releasing another EP was the only way we could get a headline gig at The Zoo…. Oh yeah, we think the songs are cool too.
JS: What’s changed – sonically – since the Kittens EP? Are parties still started?
JIM: There is definitely some dancing to be done to this EP, but in my opinion it seems a bit darker and more aggressive. I definitely pick up on a lot of tension in some of the songs. Rhythmically it’s changed a fair bit as well, there is a lot more programming in this new EP, whereas on Kittens it was kept to a minimum in favour of the ‘live’ sound, we’ve tried to strike a more even balance between the live and electronica elements….
S: Well, we have another keyboard player, Bree. And I don’t hit the cymbals as much….I think. Longer songs, so hopefully more time for the songs to build gradually, as opposed to three and a half minutes of all-in slamfest.
JS: Who was involved in the production process?
J: Essentially it’s the same as kittens, we have Greg Reason recording and mixing with Alex Hodgins.
S: The dynamic duo!
JS: The name Regicide reminds me of playing AoE 2 back in the day, what’s the actual reference?
J: Hehe, I never actually played that game, but yeah … the opening track on the EP, Steel Drums, lyrically, is about basically a higher power getting de-throned. The word regicide stuck out though because of a really good Matmos song by that name. We liked it and it stuck!
S: That’s interesting Jim, I never new what that song was about … lyrics.
JS: You’re releasing your two EPs (and assorted extras) on a custom-printed USB key. Do you see a future for the branded USB concept?
J: Maybe, I don’t know, I’m hoping people will upload the data, then wipe it clean and use the USB stick for personal use, be it uni stuff, or whatever; then it has a use other than just being a means to get our songs on your iPod, and it doesn’t end up being another CD-R buried on the floor….
JS: Do you see yourselves exploring similar limited edition, new format release options in the future? Exclusive downloads, branded hardware, virtual worlds….
J: Virtual worlds would be nice, but I struggle with basic HTML as it is. We love to experiment and try new things. I’d love to do vinyl and as a result of being a child from the ‘80s I also have a massive cassette fetish. Branded boomboxes perhaps.